The Great War of the Eastern Mediterranean

A few years ago Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi said something interesting to me in an interview. “Arabs are not a warring people,” he said. “We are a feuding people.” That’s true at least some of the time. It has certainly been true in Lebanon since the end of the Syrian occupation where brief microwars break out periodically without erupting into anything terribly serious.

But 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war to oust Assad was first launched. The UN Commission on Human Rights initially pegged the number at around 45,000, and just revised it upward to 60,000. Even that number is probably low. They have 60,000 actual names of the dead in their database.

This is no feud. This is a serious war.

An average of 10,000 people were killed per year in Lebanon’s civil war, which was vastly more deadly than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (although a subplot of that war was a part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). So far Syria’s civil war is several times more deadly than Lebanon’s. And it’s not going to tidily end when Assad finally goes.

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